Comments: opinion

Mr. Handley's column feels like it ends mid-stream.
My own take is:
People discover what they believe to be "The Truth" (64-pt. Gothic Bold). They become "born again", or they "submit", or, etc., and suddenly everything falls into place, everything is revealed, and their life and future fall into place.
That's fine. Good for them.
But then, some of these people want EVERYONE ELSE to believe that same truth. They can't believe that what is true for them isn't true for everyone else. And a few get very, very angry.
And that's when the trouble occurs. Reformations and Counter-Reformations. Accusations of heresy, witchcraft, diabolical satanism, convert or die (the latter historically occurring in more than one religion).
Some people don't want to live with uncertainty, with ambiguity.

Posted by peterpi - Peter Gross at Saturday, 10 January 2015 at 8:14pm GMT

It seems the Church Fathers had just as much disagreement in their ranks as today. And I agree with Christopher Howse that Lucifer of Cagliari is a magnificent name. Perhaps another column could be devoted to revealing why he is considered a Saint in Sardinia.

Posted by Pam at Saturday, 10 January 2015 at 8:51pm GMT

An excellent article by Paul Handley in the church Times. Religious fundamentalism is the great enemy of faith in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; whose mission was of redemption rather than vengeance

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 11 January 2015 at 12:01am GMT

peterpi is exactly right. I'd add that the same phenomenon (in less virulent form)occurs within Christian denominations and that the anger often stems from anxiety: they don't really believe what they say they believe, so the 'liberalism' of others constitutes an existential challenge. That's one of the reasons why Evangelical Christians of that persuasion get so worked up about homosexuality and so annoyed with straight Christians who find no problem with it. Nor of course do they understand the attitude of 'that's fine. Good for them'. And they can't reciprocate it.

Posted by John at Sunday, 11 January 2015 at 3:29pm GMT

"But then, some of these people want EVERYONE ELSE to believe that same truth."

The "then" probably being right around the time the Conversion High wears off. Combined w/ the paranoia that that the "EVERYONE ELSE" is "out to deny/destroy My One True Religion."

After that comes (unacknowledged to the believer) DOUBT: John's "they don't really believe what they say they believe, so the 'liberalism' of others constitutes an existential challenge" (except for "liberalism", I'd insert "ANY belief-system differing from the fundamentalist's)

"Faith of our fathers, holy faith: we will be true to thee till [someone's] death": that's Roman Catholic, but it can be any fundamentalism.

Posted by JCF at Monday, 12 January 2015 at 1:53am GMT

Christopher Howse's description of the rival claims of orthodox and arian leaning bishops is a timely warning about the factional and fractional nature of the Church. Rival claims over true doctrine and practice are best worked out within a sense of the deepest possible shared Communion. General Synod of the CofE in legislating for the possibility of women to be bishops in the Church of England sought that provision for those who in conscience could not accept women as bishops should still express the highest degree of shared communion. The language of impaired communion that had been part of the old act of synod and flying bishops I had hoped was to be a thing of the past. How sad then that there is still no clarity about who will be participating in the consecration of the new bishop of Burnley at York Minster on Candlemas.

Posted by paul richardson at Monday, 12 January 2015 at 8:37am GMT

I must be going senile but I also entirely agree with the post of paul richardson.

Posted by John at Monday, 12 January 2015 at 10:18am GMT

"The one who had the greatest claim to a special relationship with the deity chose to consort with outcasts and those judged to be unclean by the religious authorities."

Yes, thank you, Paul Handley. After Jesus was asked the question "who is my neighbour," he told the parable of the Good Samaritan. Samaritans were hated outcasts in the view of Judeans. They would not want to hear a story where their priests and pious folks are indifferent but the Samaritan is good.

Conclusion: Jesus was 180 degrees opposite fundamentalism.

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 13 January 2015 at 4:36am GMT

The point made in the article is one commonly made: “Jesus consorted/was friends with/hung out with outcast, the lepers, the drunks, the tax colelctors, the Samaritans!!” etc.

Yes, very true. But then the question is, and why did He do this? What did the Lord do and speak of while so engaged?

Typically, we are invited by articles such as these (and this is apparent by how the article ends midstream as it were, on this very point) to conclude, whatever we wish from the image thus presented of the Lord.

The fact that He spoke to and sought out the outcast, is the beginning of the discussion, not the end in and of itself.

Posted by RMF at Tuesday, 13 January 2015 at 5:07pm GMT

"The fact that He spoke to and sought out the outcast, is the beginning of the discussion, not the end in and of itself."

Well, speaking of "ending midstream", RMF, so does your comment. What do YOU think the "end" of Jesus's encounters were? Serious question.

Posted by JCF at Tuesday, 13 January 2015 at 8:46pm GMT

Hello JCF, Well, I think He is extending us an invitation. And the invitation applies to all, of course. He makes this very clear.

Then the question becomes, an invitation to what??

Ahh, that’s the rub!!

I don’t fault the journalist for focusing on the invitees. I simply hoped to highlight that the point he’s making is rather incomplete.

Posted by RMF at Wednesday, 14 January 2015 at 4:08pm GMT

I'll answer your question, JCF. The beginning - and the end - is love. Which is far more important than 'do this, don't do that'. Some will say here: 'go and sin no more', but a great majority of NT scholars agree that that episode isn't in the original text.

Posted by John at Wednesday, 14 January 2015 at 8:11pm GMT

The worst consequences of fundamentalism are not limited to the religious.
Paranoia, antisemitism, islamaphobia, fanatical belief in conspiracy theories combined with racism is the basis for the manifesto of many political parties and some nation states.
I am constantly amazed by the conversations amongst my son's Hungarian friends, secular to a man, old and new hatreds ring out with absolute conviction.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 15 January 2015 at 9:17am GMT
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